Eric had a problem. One of his sales reps, Lauren, just wasn’t living up to the potential he had seen in her three years ago, when he hired her. She wasn’t bad, but her lackluster numbers were hurting his efforts to deliver the sales growth that the investors and the street expected of this hot tech firm. As CEO, he had to do something fast.
He figured that training was not the way to go; that was too general. And whatever Lauren’s issues were, it wasn’t for lack of skills.
When he heard about my executive coaching work, as well as my sales background, he asked: “Could you work with one of my reps?”
At first, Lauren was apprehensive. Once I explained, however, that this was 100% confidential, she opened up. She started talking about how she viewed the company, her job, and her ability to succeed.
It was clear she had a negative attitude which affected her confidence. She used phrases like, “I’m the only woman here,” and “I don’t like my boss,” and “I’ve been here 3 years and everybody else seems to get promoted but me!”. I wasn’t surprised to learn she was looking at jobs elsewhere.
I told her that she had a choice:
- Hold on to your (negative) attitude and move to another company, where things may or may not be different. Or . . .
- Embrace WHAT IS, make the best of your situation, and take full advantage of your company giving you a coach. Why not show them what you’re really capable of?
She thought long and hard – and then confirmed that she wanted to fully embrace her situation, and move forward in a positive way.
Thus started our amazing, 6-month coaching journey.
Coaching is very real-time and focused on what someone is facing right now. So, we identified her most pressing challenges, and knocked them out, one by one. It helped her improve quickly.
Some of Lauren’s specific challenges included:
- She felt clunky and never fully comfortable during needs analysis meetings with C-level prospects.
- Her relationships with engineers and field support teams felt strained.
- She dreaded going to a conference, networking and hosting a dinner.
- She struggled to “get in” when prospecting and got weak responses to her prospecting emails.
- Her boss told her “you talk too fast,” and “you need to pause more,” but she didn’t know how.
Lauren’s unique coaching journey involved:
- We did formal assessments and exercises that tapped her into her unique strengths, her wisdom and her own answers.
- She connected with previous peak experiences of confidence, which resulted in an “AH-HA!” moment of enlightenment.
- She reached a new level of awareness of how she comes across – and the impact she has on others.
- I gave her a tool to lead great needs analyses meetings with customers which made her more fluid and confident.
- We completely revised her cold calling emails and she is now getting “excellent results” and “many new meetings.”
- Body Language:
- We worked on body language to help her ace critical conferences and dinners she was hosting.
- She learned and practiced new listening skills which make her a better collaborator.
- We applied visualizations and blue-printing for success.
- She learned how to pause in different ways and observed what effect it has on others.
- She asked her engineers out for lunch and interviewed them about their jobs and challenges. Lauren quickly realized that the engineers loved to be involved. So having the confidence to ask questions was the catalyst she needed to open up those relationships, and soon the engineers became her biggest supporters! This helped improve her product knowledge and, in turn, generated even more new confidence!
After the first 3 months, Lauren had dramatically improved her results. She even got a promotion. We continued working together for another 3 months to make sure the new insights, learning and behavior change stuck.
By 6 months, Lauren experienced a complete turn-around. In her own words, “I tripled my pipeline and sold more in the last 6 months than I did during the entire previous year”, “The coaching gave me the confidence to be a much better sales person. I feel passionate and really excited about my job now.”
Her bosses were delighted, as well. Turning around Lauren’s situation not only saved them the time (and money) of recruiting and training someone new, they now had an inspired and very successful rep.
By Katrin Windsor, President, Creating Thunder Inc, www.creatingthunder.com. Experts in Sales Performance Coaching, Sales Leadership Development, Global Sales and Strategy Coaching. Serving B2B clients with a focus on domestic and global growth. @katrinwindsor